Tool-use observed in molluscs! Answered
Everybody knows that humans are "special", somehow different from the other animals on our little blue planet, but it is very difficult to define just how.
An early casualty in defining "special" was tool-use. First chimpanzees, then primates, even birds were observed using tools - hammers, anvils, probing tools, fishing rods, weapons.
Now a mollusc is being presented as a tool-user.
The veined octopus Amphioctopus marginatus has been filmed by divers collecting coconut shell halves (actually human litter, dumped in the sea) and carrying them away to use later as a shelter.
Their habitat is open, featureless sediment, no protection from predators. The shells provide vital shelter in the exposed underwater plain.
If the octopus finds a single half-shell, it digs it up, carries away and then turns it over when needed.
If the clever creature is lucky enough to find two halves, it stacks on inside the other, then later "rebuilds" a whole coconut, except this time with a yummy octopus filling.
This is another example of high-level intelligence in these bizarre animals. To me, octopus are a prime candidate for the next "special" animals on Earth, once those polluting apes are out of the scene...
Museum Victoria article by original researchers, with video online.
Full story from Current Biology, with downloadable videos.
BBC story with video online.